Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I confess, I saw 'Avatar' over a month ago.
But like Twain said about typing out a letter, leaving it on the mantle for 3 days and seeing if you feel
the same after time passes, I like to ruminate over my initial feelings.
SPOILERS for those that might still not be initiated yet.
But how could that be possible, every man, woman, and child on the globe has probably seen it from what I gather.

First, my teen years were filled with 'Aliens, ' T1 and T2'.
I adored Cameron's technical prowess. The first time I saw Terminator 2, I was gasping for breath.
The action and editing turned the page for me and movies.
'Aliens' is, and remains, a teen love. It's was cinema-adrenaline rape and by the end I was worn thin, and I loved it.
It built fear slowly, it released some shocks, it built back the dread, and then it rushed to the finish, only to grab you from behind and rip you in half. And not to mention the battle of the bitches.
For those who are still bored to hear me say; I can't stand total CGI battles with creatures.
To slippery and graceful, no gravity or grime to make them look real.
The original Queen Alien puppet/ robot and Ripley fighting remains shocking to this day, and the editing is so tight you couldn't squeeze a blink past it. (Stan Winston, I miss you man)
And did I mention Camerons movies had women who were kickass, but still women?

What his prior movies has, despite their length, was impeccable timing and the GOTCHA in the last minutes.
Action films lack that, and seem to be endless battles or a climax that never happens.
What was refreshing about Avatar was it did save the big battle for the end, unlike much recent cinema that by the time the cincher comes you are too worn out to care.
The worst thing though, it jolts through sequences where I wish it could have lingered.
I was grateful the film got running quick, but learning the whole Na'vi culture was so brief and splattered it was annoying.
You have such a neat thing going, I wish more time was dedicated to that.

Let's face it, no one got time for character development, so I can't get to demeaning of anyone.
Worthington did fine, and the lead lady Na'vi had a tough job to do, and did quite well in her part.
I love Sigourney Weaver in her movies (Aliens, Ghostbusters, Galaxy Quest, she can be smart, funny, sexy, and tough!), and she's not given much to do, Human or Avatar.
Trudy was the tough-ass Vasquez, and sadly not in enough.
The Big-Bad Marine was such a story-book bad guy, but kudos to the actor.
He had a Marine's attitude (believe me, I live with one) and hammered that role to the end. Good job, man, I was intimidated by the character.
And the corporate weasel was, well, like Burke from 'Aliens', but Paul Reiser was so much more a weasel.
Sorry bub, slimely weasel mantle still goes to Burke.
No cameos by by Bill Paxton, Jennette Goldstien, or Lance Henriksen? Shame on you James!

It's always been clear Cameron is a romantic at heart. A true old school romantic. From Terminator to Titanic.
Even Aliens ,most of the scenes were cut to show Hicks loves Ripley. True Lies and the Abyss are actually love movies, and Titanic, is well, just that.

Score, lovely and lush... but was that a freakin Celine Dion song at the end?! JAMES, GROW UP.
Please man, I though that was just a 'Titanic' thang.

Another opinion fans are fighting over; is the CGI is so amazing, or so, meh, seen it before.
First, let's not forget, it's not the rendering of the amazing beasts, plants, and natives that are amazing.
It's how far we have come for the small things, namely facial and body movements, hair and skin contours, and so forth.
Smiling and talking have been truly mechanical looking for many many human digital creations. Robert Zemekis' movies come to mind, like 'Beuwolf' and 'Polar Express'. Semi-humanoid things, like Gollum or Hellboy-creatures benefit from the animal patterns and motions that aid in something familiar but-not-totally-human. Humans rendered digitally look to perfect and stiff, and it's creepy most of the time.
When the characters in Avatar smiled, it looked natural, and that is a huge leap for CGI and random algorithms .
The beasties were neat, as one can count on now.
Pandora was intoxicating as well. Love the nod to the 'Yes' album cover art with those mountains that float.

But the other thing that Cameron has that no one else has; he knows his guns, explosions, airships, etc.
When an explosion happens, it doesn't shake you, it knocks you off your feet. It takes your breath away. He choreographs physical cause and effect with guns and machines the best, and still does.
Everyone ALWAYS holds their guns correct in a Cameron film, bless the man.

All in all, it's a Edgar Rice Burroughs story for young males, and Cameron knows that.
So, he goes with it.
It's trite pap, which, after Cameron taking pap and making it into liquid metal before, is somewhat jarring.
Everyone compares it to 'Pocahontas' and 'Dances with Wolves' for falling in love with the native lady and going native, and I suppose that is correct.
There's healthy aspect of 'Emerald Forest', and 'Where the Green Ants Dream' with the message of the outside voices fighting to protect and express there connection with their green worlds. Both of those films did it more authentically, and that was the central point of them, but then again, that's utterly different territory
And a dash of 'StarGate' and 'Dune' for the whole Messiah thing on another world.
Okay, so, the whole love the earth message was broad. That's been said enough, it's a really nice message for kids, and kids should love this.
I had never seen a 3-D movie before, and this was a first timer.
So, I can't complain or compare much, but I'll say this;
I have apparent eye issues I need to get check out (or take my reading glasses?) soon,
I could see better out of my right than my left.
But gods, I didn't get ill, I feel like a rabbit or a horse with my vision, things on the edge make me ill and jump at me, and I tend to get swirled up in large scope films.
The 3-D kept me level feeling, and I swear. Even with all the swooping and diving, which was a slight pity, I would have loved to have been rendered a little more breathless, but I was in a brain warp that I kept blocking out.

Cameron himself said he made a boys-adventure film, which is generally generic material to begin with.
Why beat it up any more? It IS an old fashion boys adventure, with thrills and romance.
At 12 I would have been totally blown away.
BUT I'm old school Cameron, and miss that sorely.
But my verdict; Go see it if you have any sort of imagination and love something new.
It's flat out one of the loveliest films in ages, and Cameron raises the bar again for sci-fi.
And please, take the kids and teens and get them loving sci-fi at an early age.

I'll reiterate; it's a young-boys adventure film, and I grew up watching some of the classics like 'Journey to the Center of the Earth' and '20 thousand leagues under the sea'. Or even more like the Harryhausen monster movies with heroic men fighting ferocious stop motion beasts.

Does it deserve Best Picture? Not really, in my opinion. It has a plot, tells the story, the end.
there is much more deserving cinema out there that need the Oscar.

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